Organize Healthy Eating with a Meal Plan Routine

Do you want to be healthier and save money through better meal planning, but you’re not sure where to begin? This blog shares the proven meal plan routine of one of our professional organizers that keeps her family fed (and skipping fast food) throughout the week.

Costs of Eating Out

What would you do with an extra $1,175 a year? That is the amount of money the average person in America spends on take-out! It works out to over $70,000 in a lifetime! That’s some serious change!

The amount of money Americans spend on fast food each year is dizzying. According to one study, the $50 BILLION spent annually on fast food in America would be enough to wipe out world hunger for 3 years. It’s clear that our addiction to fast food is having world-wide effects.  

Not only is fast food a drain on your wallet, more importantly it is a drain on your HEALTH! The average fast food meal has enough calories for entire day of eating. In fact, a large soda has 3 times the amount of sugar that is recommended in a day! Saturated fat, sodium, chemicals and hormones…it may be quick in the moment, but you’ll be dealing with the health effects of fast food long after.

Life-Reclaimist-Video-Course-Series-Health

If you’re like most people, you KNOW you should eat more meals at home, but you’re overwhelmed. You’re busy. You find yourself running place to place during the week trying to keep all the balls in the air. Dinner is an afterthought (just as breakfast and lunch were). So, you grab something on your way home once again.

For most folks, there’s a dissonance between what we WANT to do for our health and bodies and what we ARE doing; and that’s when we must become Health Reclaimists!

Actual Food Waste

Even if you’re not subject to the fast food or take-out habit, chances are you may be throwing away spoiled food that didn’t get utilized.

It’s not just avocados gone bad, either…it’s spoiled greens, expired food, overdue meat, moldy bread and spoiled unrefrigerated goods.

If you’re feeling guilty throwing away food that you MEANT to eat but didn’t get to it, you are not alone!

Wastefulness Assessment Free Download

Globally, close to a third of the world’s food production is wasted each year, accounting for roughly 1.3 billion tons and nearly $990 billion dollars. In North America, however, consumers waste 39% of food!

Just pause on that thought….as consumers, we are wasting nearly 40% of our food!

Even if we could REDUCE that waste by half, just think of how much money we could save!

Meal Planning is the Answer

What can we do to reduce that percentage of personally-wasted food? We can meal plan!!

Getting organized and creating simple ROUTINES is the “HOW” to healthy living.

Portland Professional Organizing Services - Drawer

Because eating at home is exponentially healthier, and because food waste is costly: when you establish a weekly meal planning rhythm, you’ll skinny your diet and fatten your wallet!

How A Professional Organizer Tackles Meal Planning

Valerie is a busy mom of two teenagers and keeps a full schedule of organizing clients as a Professional Organizer with Restoring Order®.

Meal Plan Routine - Valerie Cottrell

With some pre-planning, a good routine, and some simplifying strategies, she’s able to keep her family fed and happy while avoiding the drive thru.

New, Healthy Habits

Getting into a rhythm of meal planning is the key to success.

First, set aside time on your calendar to make a meal plan. Choose a recurrent day of the week that works for YOU (like Sunday afternoons) where you can dedicate a few minutes to sit down and plan out your week. Then, block that time out on your calendar and stick to it!

Meal Planning - Calendar with recipe binder

(If you’re racing through life with no margin to even carve out a few minutes, you might be listing all the reasons this won’t work for you. If this is you, go read my blog “Organize Your Daily Rhythms.” It will bless your life as you take back your routines and put what matters most to you as central in your life. Also, download our free resource below.)

Organize Your Daily Rhythms Download

It’s All in Your Head

If creating a meal plan feels like a chore, here’s an empowered way to think about it:

  • What if the 20 minutes you dedicate to meal planning was actually fun?!
  • What if it counted as “me time”?
  • What if you made it a time that fueled your tank, rather than just one more “to-do” to keep you busy?

Valerie turned this “chore” into a relaxing respite that she actually looks forward to each week. She cuddles up on the couch with her furry sidekick and a cozy blanket and takes a few minutes to gather herself for the week ahead.

Meal Plan Routine - Cozy Spot

It’s amazing how changing our perspective can change our experience of an activity!

If you dread making a meal plan, think of a way to make it enjoyable:

  • Soak your feet in a footbath while you plan
  • Pour your favorite beverage and head to the sunshine on the back porch
  • Reward yourself after each session

However it looks for you, meal planning is time where you are honoring yourself and your family’s commitment to live healthier lives.

Mindful meal planning is a worthy endeavor that will ADD nutrition to your life and SUBTRACT waste! It can also help you reclaim the family dinner table and take back that sacred time gathered around the table sharing a meal.

Organize Your Planning Supplies

To make this process quick and easy, designate a convenient spot for your meal planning supplies. For Valerie, this includes:

  • Pen
  • Sticky Notes
  • Notepad for grocery list
  • Calendar
  • Recipe Binder
  • Grocery App
Gather Supplies

She keeps her recipe binder, notepad, pens, and sticky notes on a shelf near her couch (her chosen meal planning spot).

Everything is close-at-hand and she knows right where to look!

Carve out a little space to keep your materials are right where you need them each week!

What’s for Dinner?!

One of the most daunting parts of making a meal plan can be recipe planning. In fact, one study found that many people eat out regularly because they doubt their own cooking abilities.

It may take a few months to get your recipe rotation up and running, but it will be worth it! Trying new recipes with your family can be fun and exciting (remember – change your mindset!)

Another primary reason that people eat out is food cravings. Thwart these unhealthy budget-busters by finding healthy alternatives to fast food favorites. We are so fortunate to live in a time where you can find not only one, but dozens of recipes online for pretty much any food you can conger in your mind. There are healthy copy-cat versions of pretty much every fast food and take-out food around.

Our professional organizer prints out recipes to try and keeps those that earn family approval in a recipe binder. It’s easy to keep track of modifications, make notes, and keeps everything in one place.

Make a Plan

After gathering mouth-watering, make-you-want-to-eat-at-home recipes, follow this procedure to make a meal plan for the week:

1. Pull out your calendar and plan meals that fit that week’s schedule

As you’re choosing recipes and making a plan, here are some things to consider:

  • What can you make ahead of time? Can you double any of these recipes?
  • What can you crock pot for busy evenings with meetings or extra curricular activities?
  • How can you use leftovers strategically? (Some cookbooks think of this for you!)
  • Don’t forget healthy breakfast and lunch items!
Organize Healthy Eating with a Meal Plan Routine

2. Write your weekly meal plan on a note

Recipe Organization

3. Pull the related recipes out of binder

Use recipes to create a grocery list, also taking stock of what you may have left over or in non-perishable goods

Grocery List

4. Create a “tickler” system for that week’s recipes.

Val uses a colored sticky note for each day of the week to the top of the recipe and places her recipes (that are in plastic sleeves) in the kitchen for daily reference.

Meal Planning - Pull Recipes

5. Pick up the food from your list.

If you want to save time and are techno-savvy, use your grocery list to order your groceries online, schedule a pick up time that works for you, and the store will put the groceries right into your trunk as you drive up!

Not into online ordering? Then, we recommend going to the store to fetch the groceries immediately after you’ve had your planning session. This consolidates your meal planning window into a productive burst. (Any tasks that drag on or are spread over time tend to be avoided!)

Meal Plan Routine - Grocery Order App

You can also get both perishable produce AND non-perishable pantry items delivered to your door through an increasing number of online sources. Here are some other online grocery delivery options we love for healthy living:

  • ImperfectProduce.com – Help reduce food waste throughout the supply chain! This delivery service makes use of produce that’s not pretty enough to make the supermarket cut. They have customizable packages and a 100% organic option!
  • ThriveMarket.com – Thrive Market is a subscription service that delivers organic food and natural home products. “We’re committed to organic farming – for the sake of your health and our planet’s. If a product can be produced organically, you’ll find that option on Thrive Market.”
  • AzureStandard.com – This delivery service focuses on high-quality bulk and natural food at affordable prices. They supply olive oil, fresh produce, vinegar, flour, and sweeteners.

6. Make the meal plan accessible to the family! 

Val transfers her weekly meal onto this adorable chalkboard door so the whole family knows the plan for the week. No more “what’s for dinner?” questions and everyone is empowered the to help with getting dinner ready. You could also print the plan and post it on a cabinet door or on the fridge.

Meal Plan Routine - Menu Chalkboard Door

Prep Your Meals

Here are some more ideas to reduce waste and perfect your planning:

  • Prior to putting away your groceries, take a few extra steps to turn your healthy options into fast food! Hate rubbery carrots?! Wash and cut fruit and veggies for snacking and place at eye-level in the fridge.
  • Add to your calendar any reminders you’ll need throughout the week – to pull out meat or put something into the crockpot in the morning.
  • Containerize leftovers for lunch portions

Meal Planners are Health Reclaimists

This simple meal planning routine will help you eat fewer meals out and more, healthier meals at home. Your family, body, and budget will thank you.

Unfortunately, failing to meal plan can have the negative side-effect of shoveling food in and isolated eating. Having “proper meals” via your meal plan will encourage the family to gather around the table to enjoy the fare. Meal planning is one step towards reclaiming the family dinner tableand connecting over a healthy meal.

Please share your meal planning ideas and resources in the comments! Together, we are all Health Reclaimists!

Related:

How to Create a Meal Planning Routine

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